FAQs - SIA licensing policy
Will the application fee be refunded if an application fails?
The licence application fee is not refundable if a licence is refused or withdrawn. It covers the costs of the administration and statutory checks the SIA makes on every application, whether the application is withdrawn or if the final decision is grant or refusal. The fee will be returned to the applicant only if the application form cannot be adequately processed, for example due to incomplete, unsigned or illegible completion of the form.
Can applications be made in languages other than English?
Applications will only be accepted if completed in English. Any supporting documents which are in another language will have to be translated by an approved translation company before being sent in with the licence application. A list of such companies is available from the SIA website
Does SIA licensing remove the need for checks to be made by employers?
The employer is free to do any additional checks or vetting that they consider appropriate (as long as they meet any statutory requirements such as employment law). SIA licensing does not remove an employer's right to use their usual methods of interviewing and application to assess the suitability of the applicant for the post applied for.
Does BS7858 form part of the SIA's licensing criteria?
The SIA's national licensing scheme is not a vetting scheme for employment such as the BS7858. An SIA licence lets the employer know that the individual has passed a criminal check, has achieved certain skills through training and passed other criteria as set out in the SIA's approved licensing criteria. Employers should still conduct their own processes for selecting personnel, which may include activities like acquiring references.
The BS7858 is a good code of practice but it is not mandatory. If a security operative acquires an SIA licence this will not mean that they will necessarily meet the BS7858.
Is the SIA bound to the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act?
Access to a person’s criminal record is restricted under the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. However, as it is in the public interest for us to be able to assess a person's suitability for a licence, we are exempt from many of these restrictions. Subject to legal provisions about protected convictions and cautions, we are able to consider all disclosed offences, including spent convictions.
Does the SIA take into account warning, cautions or convictions committed by juveniles?
If offences which you committed as a juvenile remain on your record then we will take them into account as we do any other offence. We will see how relevant, how serious, and how recent they were, but we will also consider your age at the time of the offence. We will not consider criminal records gained between the ages of 10 and 12 unless they relate to extremely serious offences as originally described in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. We will, however, look at any serious offences committed between the ages of 12 and 15 and all relevant offences if committed between the ages of 16 and 17.
Is there a minimum length of time that the counter-signatory must know the applicant?
The counter-signatory is required to verify that the photograph is a true likeness of the applicant, rather than provide any form of character reference. In this respect as long as the counter-signatory can verify the likeness, there is no minimum time that he/she must know the applicant. Other checks are made within the application process to ensure that the identification of the applicant is verified. Please note that the counter-signatory should be a UK passport holder and they must not be related to the applicant.
What are the penalties for working without an SIA licence?
For those working in a licensable role without an SIA licence, the penalties are, upon summary conviction at a Magistrate's Court, Sheriff Court or District Court, a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to the statutory amount.
Who pays the licence application fee?
As with a passport or driving licence it is the personal responsibility of the individual to obtain the relevant licence. Some security companies may choose to initially cover the cost of the licence on behalf of their employees and recover the money at a later stage through wage deductions; however, this would be a matter between employer and employee.
Can someone awaiting conviction for a relevant offence apply?
If an applicant has been charged with a relevant offence and is awaiting trial and makes an application he/she must disclose this fact on the application form. The SIA will not progress the application until the trial has been conducted or the charges dropped. The applicant risks losing their application fee in such cases.
Will bodyguards from overseas need an SIA licence to work in the UK?
An SIA licence is required to perform close protection services under contract in the United Kingdom. It is a criminal offence to supply close protection operatives under contract without those operatives being licensed. This includes foreign bodyguards working under contract in the UK.
Do I need to wear my licence all the time?
Front line licence holders must wear the licence where it can be seen at all times when working (unless you have reported it lost or stolen, or it is in the possession of the SIA). Your licence can be withdrawn or suspended if this condition is not met.
However, you are exempt from this requirement if you can demonstrate that the nature of your licensable activities on any specific occasion requires that you not be immediately identifiable as someone carrying out licensable activities (for example, if you are a store detective or a close protection operative). However, you must still carry your licence on you and be able to produce it on request.
How much does an SIA licence cost?
"The licence application fee is £220 for a three year licence, except for front line vehicle immobiliser licences where the fee is £220 for a one year licence. Discounts are available if you need more than one licence. Further information is available here
The fee is to cover the cost of processing your application and is not refundable; it must be paid in full and submitted with the application. If you pay your own licence fee you will be able to claim tax relief against your taxable income.
please visit the HMRC website for more information.
Can I appeal a decision to refuse my licence application?
If we judge it necessary to refuse your licence application we will write to you, providing the basis for our decision. You will then have twenty-one days from the date on our decision letter to inform us of any factual errors in our assessment - for example, an error of identity, or an error in assessing your qualifications or criminal history. You may also be invited to supply mitigating information such as character references or evidence of your rehabilitation since your offence - our letter will advise you on whether we will consider mitigation in your case.
If we do not receive a response from you within the twenty-one days the decision to refuse you a licence will automatically take effect. The SIA will not write again to confirm this. Once the decision to refuse you a licence takes effect you will have twenty-one days in which to exercise a right of appeal to a Magistrate's Court, Sheriff Court or District Court.
If you do send in a response we will give it due consideration, and we will write to you to inform you of our final decision. If we decide it is still necessary to refuse your licence, you will then have twenty-one days from the date of this second decision letter in which to exercise a right of appeal to a Magistrate's Court, Sheriff Court or District Court.
Please note that costs may be involved with a court appeal, both in lodging the appeal and if you lose the appeal at court. When deciding if you wish to bring an appeal to court you may like to bear in mind the High Court case of Security Industry Authority v Stewart & Others (2007), which ruled that magistrate's courts must follow the criteria set out in our 'Get Licensed' booklet when considering appeals. As an example, magistrate's courts considering decisions we have made as a result of our criminality criteria cannot consider factors outside of those criteria, such as the circumstances or gravity of the offence(s) committed.
How do I inform the SIA of the death of a licence-holder?
If you are a business using the licence management service you can advise us of the death of a licence holder through your on line account and upload a copy of the death certificate.
Alternatively you should notify us through contact us on the SIA website, you will be asked to provide a copy of the licence holders death certificate.
Please note: you will need to provide us with a copy of the death certificate.
Why are the SIA booklets and leaflets not published in other languages?
We do not produce our publications in other languages because:
- knowledge of the English language is a requirement of SIA licensing;
- To date the number of requests for SIA information in other languages has been minimal and we therefore cannot justify the cost associated with producing our publications in languages other than English.
Furthermore, this may constitute a tax on the remainder of the industry or be a disproportionate cost to the public purse if we are unable to fund it from within the revenue generated from licence fees.
Some of the addresses I have provided on my application are not in the UK. Do I need to provide a criminal record check from these countries?
If you live overseas or you have spent six continuous months or more outside the UK, you must provide evidence of a criminal record check from the relevant country or countries. The checks need to cover the five years prior to your application.
If you attach a note to your application stating that you are obtaining an overseas criminal record check, you may submit your application form before you provide us with the check. This will enable us to begin processing your application sooner. However, you will still need to send us evidence of a criminal record check and no decision will be made on your application until we have received this and confirmed its authenticity.
You must send your overseas criminal record check to us within five weeks of applying for your licence. If you are unable to do this you should write to us within these five weeks to explain why. If we do not receive your criminal record check or an explanation for the delay within this time, we will cancel your application and you will lose your application fee. We will confirm in writing that your application has been cancelled.